Title rivals Bayern, Leipzig meet in Germany

What to watch in the top leagues in European soccer this weekend:


Bayern Munich has hauled itself back to the top of the Bundesliga, and now comes its chance to deal a blow to its closest title rival.

Bayern and Leipzig are separated by one point ahead of their meeting in Munich on Sunday, and Leipzig has been looking vulnerable. The Red Bull-backed club hasn’t won any of its last three games in all competitions, was knocked out of the German Cup on Tuesday, and striker Timo Werner hasn’t been scoring.

Robert Lewandowski’s two goals for Bayern in the German Cup on Wednesday took him to 35 for the season, and the Poland forward has scored in all four of the games he’s played so far in 2020.

However, Bayern’s defense looked fragile in its 4-3 win over Hoffenheim, repeatedly allowing the opposition back into the game.

Bayern is on track for its eighth consecutive Bundesliga title, but Leipzig and Werner have put up one of the toughest challenges of any team in recent years.

Borussia Dortmund can put the top two under pressure if its beats Bayer Leverkusen on Saturday, while fourth-place Borussia Mönchengladbach takes on Cologne on Sunday.

By James Ellingworth


Spanish league leader Real Madrid visits Osasuna on Sunday looking to extend its winning run this year.

Madrid has won eight straight games in 2020, and is unbeaten in 21 consecutive matches in all competitions going back to last year. The team hasn’t lost since a league match at Mallorca in October.

Second-place Barcelona, still struggling under new coach Quique Setién and with players and club directors at odds, visits Real Betis on Sunday. Barcelona’s problems in attack were compounded this week by the injury of Ousmane Dembele, who is likely to miss the rest of the season because of a hamstring problem. Luis Suárez is also out injured.

Third-place Getafe, 10 points off the lead, hosts fifth-place Valencia on Saturday, while fourth-place Sevilla visits relegation-threatened Celta Vigo on Sunday.

Atlético Madrid, struggling in sixth place, hosts Granada on Saturday.

By Tales Azzoni


There’s a truncated schedule in the Premier League this weekend as teams enjoy the first ever midseason break in English soccer.

The 26th round of games is being spread over two weekends to allow each team to have a two-week break from league play. Four games take place over Saturday and Sunday, with the other six staged from next Friday to the following Monday.

Second-place Manchester City hosts West Ham on Sunday, looking to pull five points clear of Leicester in third. City is 22 points adrift of Liverpool.

West Ham will begin the match in the relegation zone.

Another team in the bottom three, Watford, travels to Brighton, which is only two points above the relegation zone.

Sheffield United can climb to fifth place by beating Bournemouth at home, while Everton hosts Crystal Palace in the other game.

By Steve Douglas


Inter Milan is looking to keep up its Serie A title challenge in the Milan derby on Sunday.

Financially stressed AC Milan is desperate for points to get back into the Europa League. Inter is second, three points behind eight-time defending champion Juventus, while Milan is eighth.

On Saturday, Juventus visits Hellas Verona, which is on a seven-game unbeaten run and up to ninth place, only one point behind Milan.

Third-place Lazio, which is one point behind Inter, visits Parma on Sunday.

By Andrew Dampf


Runaway leader Paris Saint-Germain again is likely to be without Neymar for the home game against Lyon on Sunday.

Neymar hurt his ribs playing against Montpellier last weekend and sat out a league game on Tuesday.

With a Champions League match against Borussia Dortmund on Feb. 18, PSG coach Thomas Tuchel may prefer to rest Neymar. It could mean a rare start this season for Edinson Cavani, the club’s all-time leading scorer who needs two goals to reach 200.

PSG is 12 points clear of second-place Marseille, while sixth-place Lyon needs to bounce back in its quest for a Champions League place next season after taking one point from the last two games.

Marseille will be confident of strengthening its grip on second place, and extending its unbeaten run, when it hosts last-place Toulouse on Saturday. Also on Saturday, Monaco travels to play 19th-place Amiens and third-place Rennes faces Brest.

By Jerome Pugmire


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